Varnish should be used only on that part where glaire has been applied and has afterwards been polished, the object being to restore brilliancy and preserve the leather from the ravages of insects attracted by the glaire. These pests do great damage to the covers of books prepared with glaire, taking away the surface of the leather and spoiling the appearance. Varnish may be purchased at all prices; use only the best, and be very sparing with it.
A small pair of spring dividers, some lard, sweet oil, and a finishing stove, are also required. Before gas was introduced, use was made of the now almost extinct charcoal fire. A bookbinders' gas stove can now be purchased at prices varying with the size, which can be used to warm glue, make paste, and heat tools for finishing, besides a hundred other purposes. Where cost is an object, or where gas is not obtainable, charcoal may still be used. Any old tin may be utilised: make a number of large holes through the sides; fill it with some live charcoal, and place a perforated tin plate on the top. It will keep alight for hours, and impart quite enough heat for any purpose required. This primitive stove, however, must be placed on a stand or on a piece of thick iron, lest it become dangerous.
Finishing is divided into 2 classes - "blind," "antique," or as it is sometimes called, "monastic"; and "gold-finished."
The term antique is mostly known in the trade; and when morocco antique or calf antique is mentioned, it means that the whole of the finishing is to be done in blind tooling. Not only this, but that the boards should be very thick and bevelled, and the edges either dull gilt or red, or gilt over red. This class of work is used extensively for religious books. A gold line introduced and intermixed with blind work gives a great relief to any class of antique work.
It is not necessary that a special set of tools be kept for antique work, although some would look quite out of keeping if worked in gold. As a general rule, antique tools are bold and solid, such as Venetian tools, whilst those for gold work are cut finer and are well shaded. The greater number work equally well in gold and in blind; but when a special style has to be followed, the various tools and their adaptation to that style must be studied.
The general colour of blind work is dark brown, and the proper way of working these antique tools is to take them warm and work them on the damp leather a number of times, thus singeing the surface only, until it has assumed its proper degree of colour. Antique work as a decoration, requires quite as much dexterity and care as gold work. Every line must be straight, the tools worked properly on the leather, both in colour and depth; and as the tools have to be worked many times on the same spot, it requires a very steady hand and great care not to double them. Some consider blind work as preparatory to gold work, and that it gives experience in the method of handling and working the various tools; and the degree of heat required for different leathers without burning them through. The leathers on which this work is mostly executed are morocco and calf.
In finishing the back of a book, it must always- be held tightly in a small hand press, termed a " finishing press." This is of the same kind as a laying press, only much smaller, and is screwed up by hand. When in the press, mark the head and tail as a guide for the pallets by running a folding-stick along the edge of a piece of parchment or pasteboard held by the fingers and thumb of the left hand against the sides of the volume across the back at the proper place. When several books of the same character and size are to range together, the backs are compassed up so that the head and tail lines may run continuous when finished. In using the pallet, hold it firmly in the right hand, and let the working motion proceed from the wrist only, as if it were a pivot. It will be found rather difficult at first to work the pallets straight over the back and even to the sides of the bands, but after a little practice it will become easy to accomplish.
Morocco flexible work, as a rule, has blind lines, a broad and a narrow one, worked close to the bands. Damp the back with a sponge and clean water, and work it evenly into the leather with a hard clean brush. Take a pallet of the size suitable to the book, warm it over the stove, and work it firmly over the back. As the leather dries, make the pallet hotter; this will generally be found sufficient to produce the required dark lines. Sometimes it will be necessary to damp the different places 2 or 3 times in order to get the proper colour in the blind tooling.
The pallets will have a tendency to stick to the leather and possibly burn it. To obviate this, take 1 1/4 oz. white wax, and 1 oz. deer fat or lard, place them in a pipkin over a fire or in a warm place, so that they may be well mixed together; when mixed, allow to cool. Rub some of this mixture upon the rough or fleshy side of a piece of waste morocco, and when working any tools in blind, rub them occasionally over the prepared surface. This mixture will be found of great service in getting the tools to slip or come away from the leather in working. Lard alone is sometimes used, but this mixture will be found of greater service to any finisher, and the advantage of adding the wax will be apparent.
The lines impressed on the back must now have their gloss given to them. This is done by "giggering" the pallets over them. Make the pallet rather hot, rub it over the greased piece of leather, and work it backwards and forwards in the impression previously made. Great care must be taken that the pallet be kept steadily in the impressions already made, or they will be doubled. The back is now ready for lettering, as described farther on.